Tag Archives: information security

Follow-up to “The Best Architecture Document in History”

For those of you who missed my prior post on “The Best Architecture Document in History“, my central argument was that it was the US Constitution, a document that defined an architecture for government that scaled from 13 colonies to 50 states and a New World, 18th-century homogeneous country to 21st-century highly diverse global power. Bill Raduchel challenged us to write architecture documents that would remain current over multiple technology generations. This is an excerpt of what I did in response.

Following the US Constitution as a Document Model

I chose the follow the US Constitution as a general document model:

  • Use of preamble to outline the need for good architecture
  • Organization of major architectures in the form of seven Articles
  • Definition of the desired outcomes or good engineering practices to achieve each in the form of one of more Sections per Article
  • Addition of Amendments as needed to accommodate unforeseen needs and innovations

The Architecture Preamble

constitution_thumb_295_dark_gray_bgQuoting the preamble I used at AOL would be neither appropriate nor efficient. However the gist of the preamble covered the following (remember, this was Q3 2009):

  1. Online technologies and business models will evolve in ways we cannot imagine today
  2. As a result, setting technical standards such as which technology to use will become outdated almost immediately
  3. Instead, we should adopt architecture principles that enable us to quickly adapt and incorporate new business and technologies without the need to rethink core designs and rebuild core platforms

By using principles-based approach, you can plan and manage technology independent of vendor, platform or programming language. By using the right principles you would build technology that was always ready, through continuous evolution and adaptation, for—

  • Massive scaling
  • Extension to new markets
  • Incorporation of new technologies
  • Integration with new partners
  • Planned obsolescence and transition to disruptive technologies

This approach incorporated a key less I learned at MIT: you need to continuously learn and adapt if you want to be at the forefront of innovation.

The Articles of Good Architecture

After much discussion with architects and lead engineers from all over AOL, Netscape and CompuServe, I came up with the following seven Articles for Good Architecture

  • Article I – Modularity & Encapsulation
  • Article II – Isolation of Logic
  • Article III – Polymorphic Extensibility
  • Article IV – Horizontal Scaling of Performance
  • Article V – Automated Error Handling & Recovery
  • Article VI – Dynamic Globalization
  • Article VII – Role-based Security

It took a lot of work to boil this down to these key concepts. It took even more work to define technology platform-independent Sections defining each Article. However, when I was done, I had something that was re-usable, digestible and current across many other industries, companies, platforms and technology generations.

I will cover more details on these Articles, along with some key examples across the remainder of this series.

I know the Declaration of Independence – not the Constitution – was signed on July 4th. However, July 4th started a new way of thinking that led to the Constitution. This same shift in thinking (ten years ago) led me to think in a wholly different way of my (former role) as Chief Architect.